Select Page

Five Reasons Why Your Public Social Networking Community Is Impeding Your Nonprofit’s Success

by | Sep 8, 2010 | Industry News & Trends

In an effort to minimize/cut expenses, many nonprofits look to “free” solutions for their technology needs. Commercial social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube (and so many others) allow them to cast a wide net in the hopes of drawing people in and thus funding their organizations with both money and (volunteer) time. Free and a large audience— what else is there? Commercial social networking sites are designed to be all things to all people and a “free” community may not be the most efficient use of your organization’s time and energy. Five reasons why using public social networking may be undercutting your nonprofit’s success:

1.Everybody’s doing it. This is a double-edged argument. The number of the potential audience is the reason many nonprofits are drawn to these sites to begin with. But as excited as you may get when someone “likes” you, this indicates nothing. It shows no level of support. They could be liking you for a multitude of reasons that have little to do with you and their intended involvement with your nonprofit. Maybe they “liked” you because your nonprofit is a very “en vogue” cause; or maybe they yielded to peer pressure/because their best friend “liked” you; or because someone they have an interest in establishing more of a connection with “liked” you (as in high school and trying to impress someone or career — trying to impress your boss by liking his/her favorite org). At the end of the day, all you have is a list of people who might be interested in you. Then again, they might not.

2. Who are you?So your site tells you people like you. How do you harness that data (assuming that it is correct, which is a big assumption since some independent groups have guestimated that as much as 50% of the profiles contain false information)? Can you isolate those who liked you and who have given to your org in the past? No? Well, maybe you can separate them into those who’ve volunteered for you and those who haven’t. Maybe you can run a report on the top 100 posters on your wall. Or maybe you can’t.

3. You belong to me.Save these kind of sentiments for loved ones because this term of endearment does not carry over to your followers/likers. Not only are they able to leave your public community on a whim, there is no record of them ever being there. Find this hard to believe? Spend a week monitoring your personal Facebook profile. My “friend” (I use this term very tightly and only allow close friends and family on my personal page) count hovers somewhere between 90-92, depending on the day. I’ve had people disappear, only to reappear the next day. Not a big deal when it’s just my cousin getting lost in the FB stratosphere but if you are using a community like this for professional reasons, and not personal ones, you cannot afford to “lose” a constituent, even for a day.  Want to read more on disappearing data? Read this. Plus who wants to invest time into something that does not belong to you? It’s like making major renovations to a place you rent (oh wait, at least with renting you have a rental agreement in place to protect your rights and your place’s content).

4. You’re just too popular.When someone likes you (picking on Facebook again), your status updates are added to their stream. If they have hundreds of friends (or likes) your important information may become lost in a sea of  status updates as earth-shattering as “going to the grocery store” and “thinking…”

5. Size matters.Most nonprofits (and other organizations) join Facebook (just an example of a large commercial social network) because they believe they can draw a larger, more active community from it. But the facts behind this may surprise you. According to the 2010 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, the average in-house community was 50% higher than the equivalent Facebook Community.

No matter what social networking you chose to employ to keep your nonprofit in the forefront of people’s minds, you must invest time into it. From writing content to its curation, to energizing and engaging your constituents, running a community is a lot of work. Having tools that make that work more efficient and enjoyable are worth the financial investment.


Follow YM

Blog Subscribe

Bottom of page subscribe button

This will close in 0 seconds